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Working Men's Club - Fear Fear (Album Review)

Tuesday, 26 July 2022 Written by Graeme Marsh

The ‘difficult second album’ can often be a red herring. It’s something that can happen, of course, particularly when a band must quickly follow an impressive debut that they had a lifetime to prepare for. In the case of Working Men’s Club, their 2020 self-titled LP was that kind of success, but the sophomore slump hasn't darkened their door.

On record, the band is essentially a solo project for the creative force that is 20-year-old Syd Minsky-Sargeant—not the first enigmatic presence to go by the name of Syd. ‘Fear Fear’ is partly a product of the pandemic, but focuses more on the experiences of its writer than those of the general public. Fittingly, the recording process featured only himself and none of his bandmates.

Coming from the small Yorkshire town of Todmorden, it’s easy to feel the frustrations and limitations a small town offers its youth, the angst driving them on in their quest to escape the life they’ve grown up with.

On their debut, these personal shackles proved a catalyst for much of the lyrical content, but on ‘Fear Fear’ it’s more a case of contrasting gloom-ridden words with upbeat and euphoric synth glory.

19 opens the album in truly fabulous fashion, much like an intravenous shot of New Order blended with added club essence. The title track follows and in doing so reveals a trait of the album—one truly captivating song followed by something far less ambitious. It takes a minute and a half to go anywhere of note, its warping industrial tendencies coming on like malfunctioning machinery.

And so the pattern repeats. The brilliant Widow revels in the contrast of dark and light (“I love you now you’re dead”) before we’re brought back down with the melodically routine single Ploys. Then it’s back up again with the Kraftwerk-inspired motorik beat of Cut, where a rocking guitar riff weaves around a persistent six-note keyboard sequence. The soloing that circles it, like a manic jam, is stunning.

‘Fear Fear’ feels like a step up from its predecessor. An often enthralling trip, it navigates the perceived difficulties that a sophomore album can bring rather comfortably. At times it might feel like it undulates between addictive and monotone and experimental, but this serves to ensure its peaks are truly magnificent. 


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